Make your carbohydrates healthier and live longer
A few decades ago, nutritionists declared that all fats were unhealthy, but now they insist that this only applies to specific types of fats. Like the trans fats. Something similar is going on with the carbohydrates in our diet. With regard to carbohydrates, we probably should not only look at the total intake, but also make a distinction between 'good' and 'bad' carbohydrates. This is shown in a study that Spanish epidemiologists from the University of Navarra will soon publish in Clinical Nutrition.
In liquid form, carbohydrates, for example in the form of soft drinks or sugary fruit juices, are unhealthier than in solid form.
Carbohydrates are also unhealthier if they lead to a rapid increase in glucose levels, i.e. if their glycemic index is higher.
Another criterion is the amount of fiber in the carbohydrate-rich foods. The less dietary fiber foods contain, the unhealthier they are.
And finally there is the total amounts of carbohydrates you consume. The Taliban faction of nutritional scientists is not yet ready for this insight, but there is strong evidence that a diet high in carbohydrates is not healthy.
The Spaniards used the data of some nineteen thousand participants in the Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra Project. The researchers followed them for 12 years. During this period, 440 study participants died.
The researchers knew the diet of the study participants, as well as the quality of carbohydrates that the participants consumed. On the basis of the 4 factors we mentioned above - the ratio of solid form: liquid form, the glycemic index, the amount of fiber and the total amount of carbohydrates - the researchers gave the carbohydrates in the diet a score. The researchers called this carbohydrate quality index [CQI].
Next, the researchers divided the study participants based on their carbohydrate score into three equally sized groups or tertiles.
The higher the carbohydrate quality index of the study participants, the lower their risk of death. The study participants with the highest carbohydrate quality index had a thirty percent lower mortality risk than the study participants with the lowest carbohydrate quality index.
The researchers only found a statistically significant association with overall carbohydrate quality, not with its individual components.
"These findings emphasize the need to shift the focus of nutritional epidemiology from carbohydrate quantity to carbohydrate quality", summarize the researchers.
"In addition, the carbohydrate quality index appears to capture the combined and potentially synergistic effects of quality dimensions in a comprehensive manner. A single dimension of carbohydrate quality may not be the most appropriate approach to assess the effects of overall carbohydrate quality."
Clin Nutr. 2020 Oct 29;S0261-5614(20)30572-0.
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